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Psychol Sci. 2003 Sep;14(5):396-401.

Origins of number sense. Large-number discrimination in human infants.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA, USA.


Four experiments investigated infants' sensitivity to large, approximate numerosities in auditory sequences. Prior studies provided evidence that 6-month-old infants discriminate large numerosities that differ by a ratio of 2.0, but not 1.5, when presented with arrays of visual forms in which many continuous variables are controlled. The present studies used a head-turn preference procedure to test for infants' numerosity discrimination with auditory sequences designed to control for element duration, sequence duration, interelement interval, and amount of acoustic energy. Six-month-old infants discriminated 16 from 8 sounds but failed to discriminate 12 from 8 sounds, providing evidence that the same 2.0 ratio limits numerosity discrimination in auditory-temporal sequences and visual-spatial arrays. Nine-month-old infants, in contrast, successfully discriminated 12 from 8 sounds, but not 10 from 8 sounds, providing evidence that numerosity discrimination increases in precision over development, prior to the emergence of language or symbolic counting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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